Games, free speech, terrorism, etc.

Workout notes: 10 K “run” on the track: 9:59, 9:44, 9:33, 9:32, 9:27. 9:44 then 3:10 walk/jog inner lane 2 laps (58:03 at 6, 1:01:13 for 10K). It was mostly an empty track.
Gads. Though this was not a race effort by any means, IT WAS WORK. Sigh…

Posts: It is the start of Thanksgiving break and so I played hooky and went to a daytime game (no classes). The Bradley women got creamed 72-59 by Western Michigan; WMU lead by 16 before freely substituting.

But hey, it was a game to watch. :-)

Statistics Yes, I know the technical definition of p-value and what “it means”. But attempts to “make it intelligible” to non-experts often fail:

What I learned by asking all these very smart people to explain p-values is that I was on a fool’s errand. Try to distill the p-value down to an intuitive concept and it loses all its nuances and complexity, said science journalist Regina Nuzzo, a statistics professor at Gallaudet University. “Then people get it wrong, and this is why statisticians are upset and scientists are confused.” You can get it right, or you can make it intuitive, but it’s all but impossible to do both.

No fly zones: Turkey shot down a Russian fighter. Ugh. Last I heard, Turkey claimed that the fighter was over Russian airspace and Russia denies that.

Free speech A survey came out about whether it is a good thing to censor speech that “is offensive to minorities”. Not surprisingly, Democrats were more approving of censorship than Republicans (though NOT the majority of Democrats) and the youngest generation (millennials) were strongest in favor of censorship. The good news is that the more educated the person, the less likely that they would approve of censorship. That is good news, given some of the nonsense one hears coming from college campuses these-a-days.

Republicans and Donald Trump

Sure it is still early and most people haven’t started to pay attention to the election. Nevertheless, Donald Trump really is doing well and it should not be that surprising:

Indeed. You have a party whose domestic policy agenda consists of shouting “death panels!”, whose foreign policy agenda consists of shouting “Benghazi!”, and which now expects its base to realize that Trump isn’t serious. Or to put it a bit differently, the definition of a GOP establishment candidate these days is someone who is in on the con, and knows that his colleagues have been talking nonsense. Primary voters are expected to respect that?

And it isn’t a surprise that the terror attacks in Paris helped him:

Conventional wisdom on the politics of terror seems to be faring just as badly as conventional wisdom on the politics of everything. Donald Trump went up, not down, in the polls after Paris — Republican voters somehow didn’t decide to rally around “serious” candidates. And as Greg Sargent notes, polls suggest that the public trusts Hillary Clinton as much if not more than Republicans to fight terror.

May I suggest that these are related?

After all, where did the notion that Republicans are effective on terror come from? Mainly from a rally-around-the-flag effect after 9/11. But if you think about it, Bush became America’s champion against terror because, um, the nation suffered from a big terrorist attack on his watch. It never made much sense.

What Bush did do was talk tough, boasting that he would get Osama bin Laden dead or alive. But, you know, he didn’t. And guess who did?

So people who trust Republicans on terror — which presumably includes the GOP base — are going to be the kind of people who value big talk and bluster over actual evidence of effectiveness. Why on earth would you expect such people to turn against Trump after an attack?

Hey, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh created Donald Trump’s candidacy.

November 24, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, republicans, republicans politics, running, statistics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Megyn Kelly mocking Republican debate demands…

OMG, this is hilarious.

Note: Donald Trump is going to Springfield, IL next Monday. I might have to take a road trip!

November 3, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | , | Leave a comment

Republican debate: the JV session

This was a bit like watching one of those “pre-Christmas” bowl games or a CIT/CBI tournament game.


So how did it go? My take: the winner(s) were Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. There is nothing for these guys to fear from this group.

Carly Fiorina did the best job of not merely repeating tired slogans, though I wouldn’t say that she jumped out as someone who will break into double digits in the polls.

My quick summary: all don’t like President Obama and will “undo” Obamacare, his immigration executive order, undo the Iran deal, defund Planned Parenthood, etc.

Lindsey Graham: attacked both Bill and Hillary Clinton and was the war monger of the group. Back him if you want more US troops in the Middle East.
Rick Perry: TEXAS, TEXAS, I secured the border, poached jobs, and seemed to imply that Donald Trump was relying on mere celebrity.
Rick Santorum: didn’t disappoint. Was unaware that illegal immigrants can’t vote (said Obama wanted them here for votes) and compared the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage to Dred Scott; called the SCOTUS “rogue”.
Bobby Jindal: still couldn’t explain why he trailed Hillary Clinton in the polls in his own home state.
James Gilmore: why was he even there?
George Pataki: tried to impress that he governed a blue state. Don’t know why he thinks that he has a chance.
Carly Fiorina: probably the best spoken of the bunch, but mostly attacked Hillary Clinton and attacked Donald Trump for his support of single payer and his support of the Clintons.

There were a few obligatory comparisons to Ronald Reagan.

Bernie Sanders was mentioned by Bobby Jindal and praised for “at least being honest about being a socialist”…but this was only a foil to attack Hillary Clinton.

I honestly don’t see how any of these candidates will last much longer though perhaps Fiorina can slip into the top 10..and maybe Graham’s war mongering might get him past 1 percent? :-)


August 7, 2015 Posted by | 2016, republican party, republicans, republicans politics | , | Leave a comment

Republican Debate: preview

How I see the race right now:


I’ll probably watch both the JV session and the varsity session.

Key words, phrases, concepts:

President Obama has been a disaster
President Obama: most divisive President in US history
Recover from Obama
Hillary = Obama’s third term
Obamacare is a train wreck
Hillary and e-mail
Hillary and Benghazi
Hillary and “What difference does it make”
Leadership abroad
Nuclear Iran
Race baiting
Entitlement society
Repeal Obamacare
Ronald Reagan
Reform social security
Reform Medicare
Get government off of our backs!
Tax cuts for ALL Americans
“free stuff”
Moocher class
Takers not makers
47 percent
All lives matter
Illegal Immigrants
English only
guns, guns, guns

Ultimately, who will win the debate? (either one)

In my opinion:

August 6, 2015 Posted by | 2016, politics, republicans, republicans politics | , | Leave a comment

Iran deal and politics

Iran deal Personally, I like the deal as it cuts off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon; it was designed by those who know how to make such weapons.

But alas, in the opinion of some conservatives it..well…isn’t “tough enough” on a country that we don’t like. Oh, there is that troubling notion of getting other countries to agree to go along.


Bernie Sanders: I think that this short article lays out the pros and cons very nicely.

Barack Obama: yes, he set out to be “transformational” in that he wanted there to be “Obama Republicans” just as there were “Reagan Democrats”

He failed. Nevertheless, he got some really big stuff done and ultimately he helped the country more than President Reagan did, at least in my opinion. As far as the opinion of others: well, his approval ratings track rather well against the average approval ratings of past 2 term presidents. Here is the graph; the dotted line shows the average and the darker green line was President Bush (II).

Screen shot 2015-07-20 at 7.57.39 AM

Graph generated from here.

No, he didn’t have the charm of President Reagan or President Clinton. But I happen to like his approach. Note: I think that President Clinton (II) will be more like President Obama in that she’ll take a measured, calculated approach.

Republicans Trump might be in the lead in a few polls, but that can be very deceiving when there this many candidates diluting the support for a front runner. The “anyone but Trump” action is strong.

I think that Gov. Walker, Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio are their strongest candidates. If I had to pick a Republican to be President, I’d probably pick between Gov. Jindal, Sen. Rubio or Sen. Graham.
But I can’t envision a Democrat being nominated that I wouldn’t vote for. And I’ve already given Sec. Clinton a donation.

July 20, 2015 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, hillary clinton, politics, politics/social, republicans politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Presidents: past and future, rain, libraries and currency…

Local: yes, it has rained in buckets here. Now only has this past June been the second wettest month on record for Illinois (last time was 1926!) but it was the wettest June in the whole country.

Yes, I’ve always thought that President Carter was underrated, though he did make a mistake by alienating potential allies. I liked his programs, but he seemed to go out of his way to attack liberals.

Now that the 2016 primary season is easing into starting, Hillary Clinton is being attacked from the left…and many of these attacks are coming from the Republicans. Basically, they see Sen. Sanders as being easier to beat (and he would be) so they want to prop him up as much as possible.

And yes, I made my first donation to the Clinton campaign.

Libraries Yes, they are going an transition in this digital age. I admit that I don’t use them very much, except for the electronic databases. Why? I tend to buy the books that I read..even after the fact!

Relationships: this is an excellent TED talk on infidelity. Sometimes affairs (whatever type) defy logic. However I have some confusion as to what constitutes an affair. Sure, physical sex and sex related activity (Bill Clinton stuff) and Anthony Wiener stuff (sexting) qualify. But is that it?

I also think that it is tough to see where you are wrong. Seeing my social media feed has been eyeopening; it seems as if many have a “I am the only sane one; the rest of the world is screwed up” attitude, which is satirized in this Pearls Before Swine cartoon.


Click on the thumbnail to read the cartoon at the official site.

Fun riddle (hetero guys will have trouble):

I joked that I let her in line in front of me (at a local store). How do you know that is not true?


(click on the thumbnail to see the photo at the source)

July 9, 2015 Posted by | 2016, politics, politics/social, relationships, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Bristol Palin, the right wing and soaking the rich..

Well, it came out that Bristol Palin is pregnant:

After she became a teenage mother in 2008, Bristol Palin vowed that she would not have sex again until she was married. She went on to become an abstinence advocate and made hundreds of thousands of dollars preaching to girls about not having premarital sex.

In 2011, when she was 20, Palin made $262,000 as an abstinence ambassador for The Candie’s Foundation, the Associated Press reported, citing tax documents. A total amount earned over the years has not been revealed.

262,000 dollars? Remember, the Candie foundation is supposed to oppose this sort of thing. Oh sure, the message was more nuanced than “abstinence only”, and of course the conservatives are screaming bloody murder about the evil left pointing out that “abstinence only” doesn’t work and pointing out that many conservatives have zero problems judging OTHER women when they do this to themselves.

But hypocrisy from National Review is nothing new, but that isn’t the point of this post.

The point is: 262,000 dollars for THIS?

This reminded me of something Paul Krugman wrote a few days prior to the 2012 election.

Krugman pointed out that if one subscribes to conservative “news” organizations (say, NewsMax or Dick, or the feed of some conservative politicians), one gets bombarded with messages about buying gold, scam investments or quack health products. Here is an example:


He then pointed out that Karl Rove was peddling ridiculous ideas to wealthy Republicans such as “Minnesota is winnable” if only they’d pony up more money for ads…more money for Karl Rove.

He goes on:

Well, what if we’ve been misunderstanding Rove? We’ve been seeing him as a man dedicated to helping angry right-wing billionaires take over America. But maybe he’s best thought of instead as an entrepreneur in the business of selling his services to angry right-wing billionaires, who believe that he can help them take over America. It’s not the same thing.

And while Rove the crusader is looking — provisionally, of course, until the votes are in — like a failure, Rove the businessman has just had an amazing, banner year.

What’s more, this makes sense of the embarrassing Rove “we’re winning! trust me!” piece in the WSJ, especially notable because — as Sam Wang recalls — Rove so famously declared that he had THE MATH just before the GOP debacle in 2006. It’s hard to think of any good reason to pretend that Romney has it in the bag — unless that pretense gets you one last big slug of business before Election Day.

OK, this is just speculation. Maybe Rove is really a selfless true believer, his actions untainted by self-interest. Still, it’s kind of an interesting perspective.

Remember: Krugman wrote this a few days PRIOR to the 2012 election, back when we were hearing all of that BS about it being close (and I was sure that it wasn’t).

So, in that sense, maybe Bristol and the other Palin family members are cut from the same cloth? Think about it: Sarah Palin kept making noise about “maybe she should run”…but clearly doesn’t have the stomach for it.

That also makes me wonder about the oversized Republican field: how many of them are serious, and how many just want to make some money off of it?

July 2, 2015 Posted by | republicans, republicans politics, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Some political reality

If we listen to the detractors, EVERYONE hates President Obama.

But what is reality? If one looks at the cold, hard facts, President Obama’s approval ratings:

1. Track very well with the historical ratings of previous presidents (who have served two terms)

2. Are well above those of President Bush (at this point in his presidency) but below what President Clinton’s were. President Reagan had better ratings for much of his presidency but, at this point, his approval ratings were similar to President Obama’s (remember Iran-Contra)


Dotted line: average of all presidents. Light green: President Obama. Dark green: President Bush.

Screen shot 2015-05-24 at 5.13.45 PM

Again, light green is President Obama, darkest green is President Reagan (with the big dip); the middle green (and highest ratings) is President Clinton.

From here

Now the Republicans turn their sights on the 2016 elections. Yes, some are bloviating about the instability in Iraq (President Bush left a stable situation!) evidently forgetting that the Status of Forces agreement to get the US out of Iraq was negotiated with Iraq by President Bush. Yes, the region was more stable with us there, but were we to stay there in perpetuity?


May 24, 2015 Posted by | 2016, Barack Obama, political/social, politics, republicans, republicans politics, world events | , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese fighter pilots, Buffett’s mobile homes, desired failure and welfare steaks…

Workout notes
Weight in the morning: 185 (after breakfast).
Now I went to the Riverplex and ran to Wodruff (via the goose loop), 1 mile 7:51 (3:57 for 809, 3:54 for second 800), 3/4 mile walk, 9:22 mile in lane 2. (about a 9:14 mile), then 2.2 miles back for 7 miles total.
Very humbling; though the mile wasn’t all out, it was hard and I put forth quite a bit of effort.

Then to the weight room:
pull ups (5 sets of 10, rotator cuff)
military presses (10 x 85 standing, 8 x 85, 10 x 180 seated, machine).
incline presses: 2 x 135, 10 x 115 (different angle)

This was about 30 minutes worth.

That was humbling. Was it only 15 years ago that I ran a half marathon at 7:17 per mile? Now ONE sub 8 minute mile is difficult. I want to scream “what am I doing wrong?
The idea that I am merely slowing the rate of decline instead of improving is still tough to adjust to.


Well, Warren Buffett is one of those “favorite billionaires”. But he is still a billionaire and how does one become one? Of course, I don’t know how involved he is with the details of this operation and I don’t have a balanced view. And, well, no easy way to say it…I am not exactly a fan of those hurt by these policies. But people don’t deserve to be mistreated and cheated (even if legally cheated), even if I might not like them.

SNAP Yes, I approve of this program, knowing that here and there, a slacker might be taking advantage. So on this debate:

n 2013, Fox News proudly broadcast an interview with a young food stamp recipient who claimed to be using the government benefit to purchase lobster and sushi.

“This is the way I want to live and I don’t really see anything changing,” Jason Greenslate explained to Fox. “It’s free food; it’s awesome.”

That story fit a longtime conservative suspicion that poor people use food stamps to purchase luxury items. Now, a Republican state lawmaker in Missouri is pushing for legislation that would stop people like Greenslate and severely limit what food stamp recipients can buy. The bill being proposed would ban the purchase with food stamps of “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood or steak.”

“The intention of the bill is to get the food stamp program back to its original intent, which is nutrition assistance,” said Rick Brattin, the representative who is sponsoring the proposed legislation. […}

On one hand, yes, SNAP is to help people out with the basics and, no I don’t want to see it used for luxury items. But, on the other hand: how often does that happen? Do you see poor people buying caviar?
Seriously, saying “I was this a couple of times” doesn’t justify changing the law; I’d like to see some data as to how often it is abused prior to seeing the time and effort being put toward a change in the law.

More Republicans: evidently, some are actually upset that Ben Bernanke took steps to prevent a failure that they predicted:

Ah: I see that there was a Twitter exchange among Brad DeLong, James Pethokoukis, and others over why Republicans don’t acknowledge that Ben Bernanke helped the economy, and claim credit. Pethokoukis — who presumably gets to talk to quite a few Republicans from his perch at AEI — offers a fairly amazing explanation:

B/c many view BB as enabling Obama’s spending and artificially propping up debt-heavy economy in need of Mellon-esque liquidation

Yep: that dastardly Bernanke was preventing us from having a financial crisis, curse him.

Actually, there’s a lot of evidence that this was an important part of the story. As I pointed out a couple of months ago, Paul Ryan and John Taylor went all-out conspiracy theory on the Bernanke Fed, claiming that its efforts were not about trying to fulfill its mandate, but rather that

This looks an awful lot like an attempt to bail out fiscal policy, and such attempts call the Fed’s independence into question.

Basically, leading Republicans didn’t just expect a disaster, they wanted one — and they were furious at Bernanke for, as they saw it, heading off the crisis they hoped to see. It’s a pretty awesome position to take. But it makes a lot of sense when you consider where these people were coming from.

Krugman goes on to say that this doesn’t exactly instill confidence that the Republicans will do what is best for the country, with regards to the proposed Iran deal.

A former Japanese fighter pilot recalls the hell of war and explains why he never wants to see it again:

“Nothing is as terrifying as war,” he began, before spending the next 90 minutes recounting his role in battles, from Japan’s early triumph at Pearl Harbor to its disastrous reversals at Midway and Guadalcanal. “I want to tell you my experiences in war so that younger generations don’t have to go through the same horrors that I did.”


In an interview after his speech, Mr. Harada described himself as “the last Zero fighter,” or at least the last pilot still alive who flew during that aircraft’s glory days early in the war with the United States. He recounted how in dogfights, he flew close enough to his opponents to see the terror on their faces as he sent them crashing to their deaths.

“I fought the war from the cockpit of a Zero, and can still remember the faces of those I killed,” said Mr. Harada, who said he was able to meet and befriend some of his foes who survived the war. “They were fathers and sons, too. I didn’t hate them or even know them.”

“That is how war robs you of your humanity,” he added, “by putting you in a situation where you must either kill perfect strangers or be killed by them.”

This is a very powerful article about someone who has been there.

Science Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg lists his “best 13 science books” for the layperson; I have read one of these and much (most?) of two others.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, running, social/political, time trial/ race, weight training | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hills, Huckabee, Cruz and Cranks…

Workout notes: right around freezing, overcast and breezy.
1.4 mile warm up
lower loop in 10:16 (8:20 pace)
4 x lower to upper Bradley park hill, with walk/jog recoveries
10 minute jog
38 minute walk home (from the rear Park Road entrance past the dog park and Parkside)

Slight tug in the upper left hamstring early. I focused on quick steps and knee lift. Some Bradley men’s track team runners were there and did some hill reps; they blew me away (half the time), which is completely expected. Still, it is humbling to be shown, in stark terms, exactly how slow you are.

Nevertheless, I had a tempo run, hills and a walk so it was a good workout. I got some lung burn going, which is what I need.

Mike Huckabee: recounts PART of the story from I Kings, Chapter 18. This is where Elijah calls down fire from heaven to accept his sacrifice to “prove” that his god was the real god. Pity he didn’t produce a unified theory instead. :-)

Here is the part of the story that Gov. Huckabee leaves out:

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

This murder of people who follow a different religion kind of reminds one of…ISIS?

How any modern person can take this stuff seriously continues to baffle me.

Speaking of Charlatans: Ted Cruz is an official candidate for the 2016 GOP nomination. No, he won’t win. But in 2012, he carried Texas 56.5-40, whereas Elizabeth Warren carried Massachusetts 53.7 to 46.2. President Obama won Massachusetts 60.6 to 37.5. That is why I don’t take Senator Warren’s presidential chances seriously.

Now Texas is a southern state, and southern states have enjoyed a population influx. Some say it is the Republican policies but others point out…it may be …the weather….now that we have air conditioning to make summers tolerable. Seriously, if I could find a job with comparable salary and benefits down south, I’d move. I am tired of northern winters.

Other languages: Randazza goes after those who were outraged at the Pledge of Allegiance being said in Arabic. What many don’t know is Allah is merely the word for “God” in that language; it is the same deity that Jews and Christians worship. Personally, I skip that part anyway and say the pre-1950’s version:

Now this is NOT the original, no matter what the caption says. But it is the pre-Red Scare version:

The original is this:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

It was changed to the video version in 1923 and then to the current version in 1954.

March 24, 2015 Posted by | 2016, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, republicans politics, running | , , , | Leave a comment


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